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Posted: May 23, 2012
Singapore-made anti-reflective plastics to be commercialized
(Nanowerk News) Researchers from A*STAR's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) and their commercial partners have developed a new plastic that reflects just 0.09 - 0.2% of the visible light hitting its surface. This matches or betters existing anti-reflective and anti-glare plastics in the market, which typically have reported reflectivity of around 1% of visible light. Such plastics are used in anything from TV displays to windows and even solar cells. Because of the unique nanotechnology method used, the new plastic developed by IMRE maintains very low reflectivity (< 0.7%) at angles up to 45 degrees. This means that TV viewers can have wider viewing angles with less glare and organic solar cells have larger areas for light absorption.
"The new plastic was made possible because of the unique nanoimprint expertise that we have developed at IMRE," said Dr Low Hong Yee, the senior scientist who is leading the research. Several companies are in the process of licensing the anti-reflective nanostructure technology from Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd, the technology transfer arm of A*STAR. "We are also developing complementary research that allows the technology to be easily ramped-up to an industrial scale," explained Dr Low.
This plastic material is the first successful result of the IMRE-led Industrial Consortium On Nanoimprint (ICON), which partners local and overseas companies to promote the manufacturing of nanoimprint technology. Nanoimprinting relies on engineeringthe physical aspects of the plastics rather than using harmful chemicals to change the properties of the plastic. The technology has allowed the researchers to create very unique, complex hierarchical 'moth eye-like' anti-reflective structures wherenanometer-sized structures are placed on top of other microstructures - different from how other similar plastics are made. This formed special patterns that are better at reducing glare and reflection and provides wider viewing angles than the currentavailable plastics.
"This is an exciting innovation - mimicking nature through the nanoimprint technology to solve real world problems. I am very pleased that the collaboration with industry has helped move this R&D from the laboratory to application in the industry," said Prof Andy Hor, IMRE's Executive Director. He adds, "The development of the new plastic is a testament to the strength of Singapore's advanced R&D capabilities, the benefits of nanoimprint technology and the confidence thatcompanies place on our technologies."
"The outstanding results from this consortium work will benefit our company's expansion into new markets such as in the touchscreen panel and solar business sectors," said Mr Wilson Kim Woo Yong, Director,Global Marketing from Young Chang Chemical Co., Ltd.
"We have been very impressed with the developed technology and with the excellent team of researchers working on the anti-reflective structures," said Mr Tatsuo Shirahama, President from InnoxCo.Ltd.
"The results from the consortium work are key in the decision making for our future strategic planning," said Dr Yuji Akatsu, Business Unit Manager from the Nanotechnology business unit, Advanced Products Business Headquarters, NTT-AT.
About nanoimprint technology and ICON
Nanoimprint technology produces nanometer-sized structures of greater complexity using fewer processing steps, while minimising wastage of materials. It has evolved from a lithography technology for the semiconductor industry to a platform process technology that can be adapted to a wide range of applications. The Industrial Consortium On Nanoimprint (ICON) is Singapore's first nanotechnology consortium that encourages companies to adopt versatile, industry-ready nanoimprinting technology that can bring products to the market through sustainable manufacturing. The members of ICON will gain first-hand access to these new technologies by working on joint projects to develop new products and applications thatcan potentially have huge savings in R&D.
The first project in ICON on the topic on anti-reflection was launched in August 2010 in collaboration with A*STAR's Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), DSO National Laboratories, Innox Co.,Ltd., Solves Innovative Technology Pte Ltd, NTT- Advanced Technology Corporation, Nypro, Inc., and Young Chang Chemical Co., Ltd. For more information, please visit http://www.imre.a-star.edu.sg/ICON
About anti-reflective surfaces
The team ledby IMRE developed a novel solution (hierarchical anti-reflection structure design) as a differentiating approach to the conventional "moth-eye" structure which allowed an improvement in reflectivity compared with conventional structures by close to an order of magnitude. The unique structure also allowed a wider operating angle than conventional structures. This novel solution was protected with a US Provisional Patent. The anti-reflection structures developed offers complimentary and improved performance compared to existing technologies.
About the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE)
The Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) is a research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research(A*STAR). The Institute has capabilities in materials analysis & characterisation, design & growth, patterning & fabrication, and synthesis & integration. We house a range of state-of-the-art equipment for materials research including development, processing and characterisation. IMRE conducts a wide range of research, which includes novel materials for organic solar cells, photovoltaics, printed electronics, catalysis, bio-mimetics, microfluidics, quantum dots, heterostructures, sustainablematerials, atom technology, etc. We collaborate actively with other research institutes, universities, public bodies, and a wide spectrum of industrial companies, both globally and locally. For more information about IMRE, please visit www.imre.a-star.edu.sg